I was blessed this summer with the amazing opportunity to go to Governor’s School West to study theater for six weeks. It was an absolutely life-changing experience, and I learned so much about myself and the world through it. It’s impossible to share it in words, there is no string of words I can assemble to describe the things I saw and experienced there. I will do my best to give some semblance of what it was like.
I expected that the theater to be rigorous, but none of the theater was like anything I’ve ever experienced. The first show had no lines, and didn’t take place inside a theater. Called immersive theater, it took place all across the Salem campus, and students chose to follow one of the several paths taken by various characters. Some followed Little Red or her two sisters as they were hunted down by the wolf, others watched as Hansel was attacked by the witch’s crows and taken back to her lair. The entire campus talked about it for days after. It was followed by a show called ‘30 plays in 60 minutes’. We wrote 30 short plays and had them strung up on a clothesline, where they were called for at random by the audience. Each night had a different order, and it was as thrilling as it was exhausting. Finally, we did a production of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. It was filled with unconventional music choices, including Keep It Comin Love, and there was no costumes, and minimal set design. The whole show centered around our bodies and how we physically displayed our animals.
The entire community was warm and inviting. Every person was so vibrant in their own way, and there was never any real fear of making friends. You could start up conversations with strangers in the line to get cookies and be talking for a few hours. No matter what the person was there to study, there was always something to talk about. The environment promoted conversations about politics, society, education and diversity. Discussions about difficult topics were encouraged, and every day I had mind-expanding conversations with students and instructors. It was always easy to find something to do and someone to do it with. I spent hours in practice rooms singing with chorus girls, lounged in the (air conditioned) lobby of my dorm talking to the odd mix of friends I made over the weeks spent there, chatted with the math instructors about theoretical geometry, and learned about the US prison system, all within a week. I know I will never experience such genuine intellect so freely ever again.
I never would have had this experience without Neuse Charter School, and especially Ms. Mohs, my drama teacher. I sincerely hope every student who wants to pursue Governor’s School has the opportunity to apply. It really opens your eyes.